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Moose Needs Help - Again!


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Sorry in advance. Yet another crisis of confidence from me...I have so many things that I don't know where to start. I promise that one day I will write something positive - I don't know when...!


This is only my second year teaching in Reception and my present class is very different from last year's class. Last year my class were happy to work independently, selecting and managing their activities from the range on offer. I arranged a picture system whereby all the jobs for the morning had a picture with a certain number of velcro spaces underneath. This meant that if there was space for the children's name then they could go on that job. If there wasn't then they knew that they had to choose something else until that job became available. They also knew that they should try and do as many of the jobs that were available and sometimes I would say that a particular job was compulsory. Whilst the children were working independently, my TA and I would pull out groups/individuals and work on either particular skills led tasks which weren't differentiated except by outcome or work on differentiated tasks such as maths or literacy type skills. We also had short whole class phonics, text level and numeracy sessions spread throughout the morning.


Not that I know anything much but I would say that they all made progress and the average score of the class on the profiles was 6.5 which, as the Standards Site says that a 'good' score is 6, I think was okay. Plus, I'm hard on assessments.


This year...well, where to start. I have a group of (largely summer born) boys which includes some with some very strange behaviour which I am trying to get people to take seriously (oh, they're only Reception there's plenty of time for them to get sorted out :o ). Plus, they're not interested in things like pegging, writing, number games etc. By and large they can't hold a pen, write their names etc but love playing in the role play area and materials tray etc.


A big part of me thinks that 'they're not ready' yet and that education isn't just about reading, writing and maths. However I feel under pressure from my TA and Y1 (a job share) to spend all my time with them on remedying the things that they lack in these areas. I CAN see the argument for this approach but the Standards site stresses that ALL of the 6 areas are equal and what if these particular children's skills/future don't lie in these particular areas? Should their other areas of development suffer just so that they can write their names?



Arghh! Feeling even more of a failure than usual.


I am (hopefully) including a copy of my plans for next week so that perhaps you would be kind enough to glance over them and see what you think.


I'm off now to have a little sob and a drink - not necessarily in that order!







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Oh and if I understand 'free flow' correctly, which it's quite likely that I don't, how do you MAKE children do things, that however attractively you present them, aren't as exciting as playing in flour. My more able children have the skills to go and practise making curly caterpillar shapes with different sparkly pens but for some of mine this year I feel like I may as well go and ask them to practise Latin.

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Hi, youve hit the age old dilemma!

Your plans are very comprehensive and quite demanding. Do the children manage all that?

I appreciate the problem and think that you probably have to keep up the routine that you established successfully last year, perhaps adapting it slightly to suit the children now. Can you also include a name writing activity each day etc to encourage those skills that you feel the children need to develop. Keep offering the opportunities to practise those skills at an appropriate level and the children will make progress.

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Hi Susan. Thanks for being a superstar and replying so quickly! Can you explain which bit(s) you think are demanding?! My brain's not working that well!


If I include a name writing activity I suspect that the ones who don't really need to practise their names will go and do it but that the ones who desperately need to won't!


I sporadically have parent help - do you think that when I have this I should ask them to help just those children who need the help with their name writing?


Really I need someone to follow my group of boys around saying 'No we don't shout/gouge each other/break things...'

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Hi Moose


I have had a look at your planning and it seems alright. To me you seem to cover a lot of literacy in a day- what with phonics and big book.

Are the areas at the bottom of your planning the independent jobs?


I am also under pressure about maths not being as it was and the children achieving the levels by the end of Year 2- but we have to do what is right for the children.


I would do lots of practical things with the children- if its handwriting that is the bug bear then why not do your handwriting practise with paint- we did it last week and sprinkled glitter on our letters the little ones loved it.


As long as the children are recieving a balanced curriculum and are developing the necessary skills- I think thats whats important.... so what they can't yet use a pencil and not interested in pegging- try and thionk of other activities that use the same skills but are different- eg using nails in soft wood and a hammer to make things- they are still having to use the pincer grip- ready for writing.


Please don't stress too much- think of all the skills and experiences the children are getting - and try not to bend to the pressure of the others.


It will all gel into place in the end.



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Hi Lorna. Thanks for replying and the comforting words. Yes, the 6 areas bits are the independent activities which the children access as they choose as long as there is space for their names. Some of the children don't access all of the jobs - do you think that matters? Some people are keen for me to adopt the rotation of activities idea a la the literacy hour when it first came in. I have a problem with this as I hate being under pressure of time and I thought that the children were meant to have time to become engrossed and follow their areas of interest. I hope that by providing, across the year, adult directed/initiated activities then if children have chosen not to access certain independent activities where particular skills can be gained/developed then they'll learn/experience them with an adult.


I don't mind (much :o ) if I've got it all wrong I'd just like to know so that I can put it right. There's no-one in my school who has taught reception in the not too distant past so you good people are my only hope!

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Moose - relax !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I know this is easier said than done!


If I were you I just wouldn't worry about those boys - summer born boys!! They will write their names when they are ready - what about the outside area, do they enjoy that? Could you sneak in a few decorators paint brushes with big tubs of water for them to 'write' their names on the wall? Or sticks to write with on the ground (these could easily turn into weapons tho'!!!) Or squeezy bottles filled with paint or just colouring water to 'write' with on the ground or wall.


During free flow or child initiated we never, ever make the children do anything, many do the same things all the time - this is where they are at. We also don't do a task board or have a limit on numbers in any area (all part of negotiating etc) I feel quite laid back compared to you - may be too much so.


Your plans are very detailed - do you have any free time?????????? Also, just a little point, I abandoned weekly plans last term. My life has been completely transformed (for the better) We plan termly (v. brief), then a very brief outline of the week at our weekly planning meetings and then go straight to daily plans. I couldn't plan more than a day in advance, sometimes only do the morning and bits of the afternoon then fill in at the time or afterwards. If anyone asks, it is because we are responding to the children's needs and interests through our observations. My plans really seem meaningful and like a working document now but they are not at all as detailed as yours! I am only sharing this with you, not to confuse you, but to hopefully cut your workload?!?

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Hi Bungalow - thanks for being nice! The answer to your main question - do I have any free time? - is NO! This is causing quite a bit of stress at home at the moment! Hmmm!


I feel that I have to be so detailed in my planning because I started it from nothing. The teacher who was in Reception left the school and took all the planning with her. So not only do I have no one to talk to, I have no plans/ideas to fall back on. Also, there were no resources in Reception so I have had to make/buy everything. Do I sound sorry for myself?!


If it's not too cheeky, I would love to see a copy of your plans so that I can either reassure myself, beat myself up some more or change what I do.


Also, I would love to know what a cross-section of your class are currently achieving in literacy and maths - again for the reassuring/beating myself/change scenario!

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Hi Moose,

sorry if I have alarmed you, by demanding I meant that you were including a lot in your plans and thereby demanding alot of yourself and of the children although this is difficult to judge when I dont know your cohort. However, from experience I would not be tackling one more and one less in the same week! SO your plans are demanding in that you are covering alot!

I would continue to resist the rotation of activities, I do not think this lends itself to child/ adult initiated and if your children are not responding to your task board they will not find this any easier.

Although I was not working with daily plans as Bungalow suggests, I was not planning my weeks in as great as detail as you, leaving myself able to follow the leads or needs of the children. Again demanding! Personally I prefer to plan in a more integrated fashion which is also less time demanding.


In my recent ventures into schools on supply, I have seen schools make different demands of the children during registration etc which has enabled the children to practise their names daily etc. Can you incorporate something like this into your routine?

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Hi Moose,

Re the writing! You probably do these anyway so apologies if I'm stating the obvious

Do your children self register in the mornings? I'm in nursery and each morning have several childrenwrite their names for the board, (the others find name cards). We use pieces of card, whiteboards, laminated paper, clip boards with paper, loads of different approaches to get them interested. Have also used computer and magnetic letters/sandpaper letters to make names at different activities,(children find letters and make name to show they have accessed activity-tick lists are popular too)

One of my boys will write his name to use as a personalised number plate for the bikes outside. If I want him to try again I just remind him he needs 2 number plates. I use whiteboards with two holes punched in them at the top and a lace threaded through.



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Hi Moose,

I am attaching a copy of my Daily Plan format. I must confess I have slacked of late and tend to write one out long hand - not very detailed, in fact, my plans are just not at all detailed. I do always ensure I have learning intentions though.


It is really bad luck that you have had to start from scratch! Just think next year, you will have the plans and resources you need, so it should be easier!





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  • 2 weeks later...

Need help again!


Friend is going for an interview, and she has been asked to prepare


*a topic web to develop the theme of the Enormour Turnip for 6 weeks

*detailed plans for the first week of the theme

*a plan for the first day to introduce the theme for all areas of learning


For the latter she has to have it prepared for the intervew day and present to a small group of children.


Has anyone done a web topic on the Enourmous Turnip?


Is there anything that she could possibly have to tweak for said interview?


Many thanks,


Mella :D

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Guest Greenhouse

Hey You!!!


Dont despair!!


It sounds like you are a very comitted and caring creature!!!


Stop Fretting!!!!!!!


All classes will be different from each other, the trick is finding the strengths your current class have. They may lack pencil control and the will to sit down and join in with more formal academic activities, but they love role play, so use this area to promote fine motor skills with a variety of activities, not pen and paper based, threading building etc.


Use your own judgement, dont be pressured by your TA and other teachers working in the class, you are in charge and ultimately the classes success is down to you!! Do what you feel is right for your children.


You got it right last year and you will do this one too!!

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